The One Left Behind
I labored over this one. I sooooo wanted to include it in my Top 10 of 2018, but ultimately I had to leave one out and this was the one I chose.
But, I love this image.
In fact, of the hundreds of images I captured at the Out of Chicago Landscape Photography Conference in October, this image was the first I had printed and framed upon my return home. I even entered it in a local show and it was awarded 2nd place.
I love the sunstar, the scraggly branches, the clouds, and the rock in front of the tree. I knew when I took the image I would process in black and white, and when I began processing I quickly found the square crop to be the most pleasing. And that rock, well truth be told I moved it in post as it was a bit off center in the field, something that rendered the image a bit off and, unfortunately not something I noticed at the time.
What I most love about this image, however, is the memory of capturing it. These juniper trees were commonplace in Moab and I had been trying to capture an image like this since arriving several days prior. On the final night I was on an excursion with Nick Page and several other photographers to Green River Overlook (you can see a bit about our excursions to here and Dead Horse Point Park on Nick’s Youtube Channel). If you have never been to Moab, UT, home to both Arches and Canyonlands National Park, put it on your bucket list. The overlooks that I attended with Nick were breathtaking. With canyons that go thousands of feet deep, skies that go on for an eternity, weather and atmosphere that produces amazing light, and countless number of options for foreground interest, it’s a photographer’s playground.
On this night with Nick and the crew, we found ourselves waiting for the sun to go down, which gave me plenty of time to go look for the right juniper tree, with the right light. After a bit of a search I found this scraggly looking thing backlit with amazing clouds in play. Looking at the tree, I could see two branches about 2/3rds of the way down that formed the perfect crotch. All I needed was to capture the sun on the edge that crotch. So I adjusted my tripod accordingly , fine tuned with a couple of test shots, and with a small aperture, captured my sunstar.
I then rejoined the group and captured sunset over Green River Overlook.
I love this image and when I look at it it brings me back with the group to Green River Overlook, Dead Horse Point, and the immense vastness, solitude, and peace of Arches National Park. And that is what photography is all about to me. Yes, the images are wonderful and I love the challenge of capturing them, but if all I do is press a shutter and I don’t appreciate being where I am, when I am, then the image itself is worthless.
It’s about being present, right then, right there, the images I capture are simply there to remind me of that.